BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans reacted with shock and disbelief on Wednesday after national team and Hanover 96 goalkeeper Robert Enke, suffering from depression, committed suicide at a train crossing near Hanover on Tuesday.
“He was afraid to go public with his depression because he feared he could lose everything, in football and privately,” said his wife Teresa. “Football was everything to him. It was his life, his elixir.”
Enke, 32, had been suffering from depression since 2003 but had not confided in anyone other than his close family and his personal psychiatrist.
His sudden death left players and soccer officials in shock.
“I am stunned. I am at loss for words,” said Germany captain Michael Ballack.
“I find it hard to describe my feelings, I am totally shocked, totally empty,” Germany coach Joachim Loew added.
“His death is an immense loss. We will miss him as a first-rate athlete and an exceptional human being.”
Enke, who was in the running to be Germany’s starting goalkeeper at next year’s World Cup in South Africa, had not been not picked for a friendly match against Chile on Saturday. The game was called off following his death.
“You may comment on whether the decision (to cancel the match) was right or wrong,” Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff told reporters, his voice breaking.
Stuttering and unable to hold back tears, he continued: “But you were not...you were not in this circle...and the players felt just like me.”
Enke’s death triggered an outpouring of sympathy, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter saying his “thoughts are with the family and we hope they will find the strength to deal with the pain”.
German soccer federation chief Theo Zwanziger said: “The question ‘Why’ has been accompanying us since last night. We will not be able to answer this question quickly but we owe it to him...to work towards an answer why professional athletes, celebrated as idols, can come to such a decision.”
Writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com
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